A new mom dives into parenthood. Will our heroine survive?

Monday, January 28, 2008

5 months old and first solids!

Hurray for Goose! He is now eating solids and LOVING it! We have been experimenting with rice cereal for a few weeks now, but he just didn't like it very much. He would tend to get a little frustrated after a few bites and I didn't want to push it for fear of making him dislike eating all together!

But recently he has been showing a strong interest in watching us eat. We pull his high chair up to the table with us while we have dinner so he can feel like he is a part of the group and lately he has been following our forks from plate to mouth like a tennis match, or a basketball game in overtime! He has also been mimicking our facial expressions while we eat by making "chewing" faces at us. So we decided it was time to start him on actual baby food. No more rice cereal, fake-o, food!

It's hard to tell in these pictures, but he did actually enjoy himself with these peas, although he enjoyed the sweet potatoes a few nights later even more. I guess it is the strange sensation of texture in their mouths that makes babies screw up their faces like this! Anyway, it was very cute.

In other news, beingn 5 months old has opened new and interesting doors for our little Goose baby. He can now roll front to back and back to front, as well as sit up by himself for a few seconds before leaning too far in and toppling over. He has also begun doing the "airplane" and pushing up on his hands while on his tummy.

Let's see...what else can my gosling do? Reach and grab! That's his favorite - which makes it very difficult to type on the computer since he is how reaching for the keys and trying EAT the laptop! Thanks to my Ergo carrier, though, he is now being worn on my back and therefor it is less difficult for him to type his opinions over mine while blogging. :)


Here you go!

Feels funny, but tastes good!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Making a Rag Rug From Scratch

My mother at Homemaking Dreams introduced to me this site: Sew Mama Sew, where I found a great blog with a tutorial on making a rag rug, with, um, rags...! I thought it looked really cool and fun and so I tried my hand at it. I thought it was going to be very difficult, but it was exactly the opposite. In fact, it was the easiest project I've ever done that I actually thought would have been incredibly hard. To make the rug I went into my closet and found a few shirts I no longer wear. I bought a size 11 crochet hook, cut up my shirts and made the rug! Because its my first one, and I was just using random materials in my closet, the colors don't really match - at all - but its looks pretty cool I think! Here it is:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Using Credit Cards To Your Advantage

There are a lot people who shun credit card use out there - and with good reason. Credit Card companies, as with most companies, are simply out to make money. And they make it by taking it from you. Having said that - I STILL think its ok to have one or two cards that are paid off monthly - IF you're making money on the deal.

We have a Southwest Airlines Credit Card. We've earned lots of FREE airfare as rewards for using the card. Do we charge a lot on the cards or spend outrageously? NOPE. We simply use our card for everything we do. We us it to buy a drink at the mall or a candy bar at the store. We use it to buy our weekly groceries and our gas. Even some of our utilities are set up to run through our Southwest card.

It all adds up, and we have free airfare to show for it. The Southwest card is the only card I recommend if you are interested in free airfare. Most other airline cards use a miles based system that takes a Loooooonnng Tiiimme to build up a reward. Usually you need 25,000 miles to get a ticket. Not so with Southwest. You need 16 points. That's it.

Some people don't like using credit because they feel they overspend and charge up a balance they can't pay back. But if you use your credit responsibly, you CAN make it work for you. In our case, it actually saves us money to use our credit card because we travel to visit family and friends so often. (In fact I haven't paid for hotel rooms OR plane tickets in about 4 years, but thats another post!)

Legends of the MALL, Part 2: Fake Sales

Everyone loves a good sale, but did you know that sometimes those drastic price cuts are not actually cut at all? One of my favorite mall stores is Aeoropostale. I like this store because the clothing is cute and cheap compared to its competitors American Eagle and Abercrombie (wonder why they all use "A" names??). I also do a LOT of Christmas shopping at this store because other people in my family love it as well and they tend to have great sales around the holidays - or do they??

Because of my continued loyalty to the store I notice what the normal prices are on their staple items like baby tees and jeans. So when I went to Aeropostale this year to do my Christmas shopping I was a little angry to find that despite the HUGE 50% OFF signs that were hanging in every window and set on every table, the actual discounted price of the item was the exact same as it always is...! For example a pair of jeans that is usually priced $24.99 had been re-tagged with a $49.99 sticker and then a 50% off sign had been placed above the rack. The same was true for t-shirts. The same t-shirt that would normally be priced around 10 dollars had been marked UP to $20 and then had a 50% off sign stuck on the table.

I have to admit I was a little angry that they would trick their customers in this way and think that no one would notice (even though they snuck it past me for several years!). It really got me to thinking about retail in general and the "sales" they have to attract customers.

About 5 years ago, I worked part-time at Victoria's Secret. There were several items in the store that were always on some kind of sale - but when you did the math they were actually always the SAME price. Lotions and body sprays were almost always 5 for $30, or 3 for $18. The company simply shifted the numbers around to make you think it was on an even better sale than the week before. Underwear was the same - 5 for $25, or 3 for $15.

Retailers employ all sorts of tricks to make you think you are getting a deal, when if fact you're still paying the exact same price! For example, at some grocery stores the milk might go on sale - but the bread will be hiked about 20 cents to compensate. (On a similar note - did you know the reason milk and cheese and bread are in the back of the store is so you have to walk past all the non-staple items on the way to get them? Hmmmm.)

So, my point here is not to shun your favorite store, after all - despite my revelation at Aeropostale that day, I purchased several items anyway - but to make a point when shopping to not be a victim of marketing! Make purchases because you see what you need or because you really like a certain shirt. Not because things are on "sale". Avoid temptation and notice prices so that you don't over-pay. Many people keep a price book in their purse to keep track of normal grocery prices so they know a deal when they see one - this is a GREAT idea. Happy Friday everyone! For more frugal tips head over to Crystal's Blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Secrets of The Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with your Baby

The Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg, was definitely an interesting read. Was it a good read? Not necessarily...this book was somewhat contradictary to my own personal child-rearing beliefs. Because of this, I found the book, at times, to be a little hard to swallow, however, some of the information was factual and therefore helpful.

The author of this book is a registered nurse, midwife, and newborn and postpartum caregiver from England with over 20 years of experience, who claims an innate ability to comprehend the often difficult to read language of babies. She believes that "Every baby is a person who has language, feelings, and a unique personality - and, therefore, deserves respect." While I believe this statement to be "spot on", I take issue with other aspects of her philosophy. For example, she whole-heartedly disagrees with feeding on demand and goes so far as to have a feeding schedule set into place from day two of a newborns life. I disagree with this. She also has some interesting things to say about breastfeeding, (as in "not good" things) which I definitely disagree with.

Hogg believes in scheduling most, if not all, aspects of baby's day. She calls it her E.A.S.Y. plan. E.A.S.Y. is an acronym for Eating, Activity, Sleep, and You Time. In her section on the "E" (eating) she goes into detail about the pros and cons of breastfeeding. This chapter, as I said before, I took particular issue with, because she puts breastfeeding into an almost completely negative light. In all honesty, if I had read this book prior to breastfeeding, I would have definitely decided against it.

The author claims that "not everyone can or should do it" and that while breastfeeding is best "we mustn't go overboard". She speaks of how breastfeeding moms typically keep 5 to 10 pounds of pregnancy weight while nursing and how this could adversely affect their body image. This may be true, (and I'm actually sporting those 5-10 extra pounds of cushion right now) but is it really relevant when your child's health is concerned? She puts emphasis on how much it hurts to breastfeed and how it isn't nearly as easy as most mothers think it will be. This may be true as well, but she makes absolutely no mention of how quickly this hard time passes. Within a month most mothers are well-adjusted and become champion breastfeeders! Most women actually come to enjoy it - I know I did!

Hogg also says that just because studies show that breastfeeding can help prevent certain types of cancer in the mother and, in the nursing infant, ear infections and respiratory diseases, that this is only statistical evidence and by no means indicates that you or your child won't contract these illnesses. This is accurate - BUT it certainly doesn't mean that breastmilk doesn't provide protection! Hogg even goes so far as to actually mention a 1999 article in the Journal of Nutrition that describes the possibility of changing the genetics of cows to produce human breastmilk...WHAT?!? Just because it might be possible, doesn't mean it should be done! Yikes.

Despite all the problems I have with the content of this book, I did learn two things: 1) Sometimes I think the baby is hungry, when really the baby is TIRED. and 2) put baby down for a nap after 2 yawns to preven excessive fussiness. In the section where Hogg describes understanding baby language, she admits that most mothers mistake the tired cry for hunger. She advocates putting babies on eating schedules for this very reason - so you don't mistake their cries. I disagree with that point, but I did learn from the advice on getting baby to nap. This has actually helped me immensely, which I am grateful for.

Other aspects of the book include a table describing different kinds of cries and body language and what they mean. I found this section to be self-explanatory because who can't tell when their baby is experiencing "discomfort" such as gas or a bowel movement? Hogg also mentions scheduling "You Time" by having a loved one or nanny come in for 2 or 3 hours a day to babysit while you nap or do other girly things. This is a neat idea in theory - but most of us don't have the extra money lying around to take time off to sit for someone 3 hours a day or to hire a nanny for 3 hours a day.

So, while I found this book to be interesting, I do not recommend it as a useful baby tool. And I strongly advice against reading this book if you are currently deciding whether or not to breasfeed! As I previously mentioned, had I done this I would have most definitely decided against breastfeeding and that would have been the WRONG decision. Thank goodness I used my intellect and will-power to make and stick with my decision to nurse.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Legends of the MALL. Part 1 - Impulse Purchases

Today I was shopping at the local mall and went into a store to purchase one item that I needed. ONE item. That I NEEDED. When I took it to the register I was greeted by a young friendly woman who asked me if that was all I needed. Yes, I replied. She said was I sure, because "we have lots of little lotions and other items you might need right here at the register". I'm all set, I replied, this is a gift and I need only this ONE item. OH! Its a gift! Would you like to add some other items and make it a gift basket? The lotions are only a dollar. I politely declined once more, but what I Really wanted to say was "Please just ring me up and let me leave. That lotion may be only a dollar to you, but to me a dollar is a BIG DEAL!

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever purchased an "impulse item" because a nice lady gently pushed you into it? Or maybe you actually didn't notice at all because the nice lady was so smooth. Most of you probably know that the sales lady is really just trying to do her job and make a few extra bucks for her company, but what you may not know is that impulse items are very strategically marketed to you. Marketed in such a way, that if you don't know the truth you might do exactly what they want - load up on extras at the register. As a former employee at several of those mall stores you've probably been to a million times (Motherhood Maternity, Brookstone, Make-Up Boutiques) I know exactly how they do it and I want to share it with you, so maybe you can save yourselves a few dollars next time you're at the mall.

#1) IPS "Items Per Sale". Did you know that most mall employees are under intense pressure from their managers to acheive an average IPS of 3 or better?? This is probably the one thing that bothered me SO much about mall sales. If someone doesn't want more than one thing, I didn't want to be the one to pressure them into purchasing something else. Next time you go to a store at the mall and try to buy only one item, pay attention to what they say. If the line isn't too long they will more than likely try to show you an item or two at the register that is under 3 dollars.

#2) The impulse items at the register are frequently rotated, usually on a weekly basis, and the employees are coached on how to market that new item each week. They will often have a goal of how many they have to sell each day based on their number of hours worked. Sometimes there even contests to see who can sell the most.

#3) These items may only cost you a few dollars, but to the store, they are big money. Think about it - a 1oz. tube of lotion is on display at the cash wrap and is selling for $2.00. You think, WOW only 2 bucks! And because its only 2 bucks, you don't mind adding it to your total purchase when the nice sales lady suggests it to you. You might even think she's doing you a favor. But before you purchase the lotion, go check out the 5 oz, or 10 oz size. I can guarantee you the cost per ounce is NOT $2.00. In fact, it's probably much less than that. The store makes way more profit margin on that little tube of lotion than on the big ones. Which is one reason they want you to buy it so much.

I hope this has been informative for you. I plan to continue the series next Friday with "Is it really on sale?". Did you know that many stores have FAKE sales? I used to get conned by that one all the time! See you next week! For more Frugal Friday Tips please visit Biblical Womanhood

He Did it!

Goose is an official back-to-front-roller-overer! For a couple of days he's been coming really close - he'll roll over to the point of no return - but then return...Well, yesterday I left the room for about 3 seconds, and OF COURSE it happened when I wasn't watching! Anyway, he's an expert now!

Now that he's mastered back-to-front rolling, he's now attempting front-to-back rolling. The funny thing is, Goose absolutely HATES to be on his tummy so when he actually finishes rolling over, he gets really mad! Poor thing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Blogging with Baby

You may have noticed I have not been blogging quite as much as before Christmas. Well, there are two reasons for this. The first reason, is that my laptop died before Christmas and I was without one for a couple of weeks. The second reason, is that while I was waiting for my laptop to arrive, Goose began reaching for and grabbing whatever he sees! Add that to the fact he wants to be in the baby carrier all day, and you've got a pretty difficult typing situation on your hands! For example, right now Goose is facing out in his carrier, reaching with his left hand onto the keyboard. He is also squirming and protesting the fact that I have made him look in the same direction for more than 5 minutes! Ha!

It makes any kind of computer work very frustrating. Anyway, I am hoping that having a couple of set pieces I am working on at all times (see previous post) will allow me to get a little more blogging done! I guess the idea is that whenever I have 5 minutes of type time, I'll know what to type and therefore hopefully get more done! By the way, Goose had his 4 month checkup about a week ago. He is just about 15 pounds now and 25 inches! He has more than doubled his birthweight! Go GOOSE! (Or rather, Go Super Mom for breastfeeding on demand for 4 solid months!) :) Oh, and his first teeth are peeking out at us as well!

Hmmmm, Which one you toys wants to go in my mouth?

Product and Book Reviews

Very soon, you'll be seeing two new segments on this site - Product Reviews and Book reviews. I want to include some helpful content on the site so I'm going to review any mom/child books that I am currently reading in addition to reviewing any products I am currently using. I plan to update my sidebar with features such as "Book of the Week" and "Product Testing", or something along those lines. Be on the lookout for the changes! I'm pretty excited about it, so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Frugal Friday - Soups ON!

Soup. Soup is not very exciting when you think about it. I mean, I can honestly never think of a single time I've actually had a "craving" for soup. My cravings mostly include Pop-tarts and chocolate - never soup. But when recently I decided it was time two drop the two inches of skin/fat left over my pregnancy days last summer (I really miss being able to button my pants!), I also decided it was time to eat more SOUP and less DINNER! Ha-Ha... heh... uhhhh...

What's so frugal and wonderful about soup you ask? Well, condensed soups are only 50 cents a can my friends!! For example, tonight we had tomato soup. 50 cents, two people - that's 25 cents each for hubby and myself to eat, uh, SIP dinner! Granted it's definitely NOT in my top 100 things to eat, but its very low calorie, and extremely cheap. Two things I like a lot! So if your trying to pinch some pennies, add a soup night once or twice a week!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Teething is not so fun is it??

Well, that husband of mine went back to work this morning. I am missing him so much already. Its funny how used to things we get - and so quickly! He was only home for 2 and half weeks, but it feels as though it has always been that way. I don't know what I'll do today without his help! Goose has been teething (we think) and has become a REAL handfull.

For the most part, Goose has been sleeping through the night since he was 8 weeks old. Occasionally he would wake up once during the night for a couple of days, but he would go right back to sleeping through. Well, now he has started waking up several times each night. He hasn't done this since his first week home from the hospital.

And it isn't like his normal waking up either. He cries so hard! Last night hubby got up with him the first time woke up (1am), and he was crying so hard that I had to get up to calm him. Then he wanted to eat. He then woke up at 4am and 6am. He has also started waking up about an hour after you put him down on some nights. When that happens he gives a very sad sounding, scared cry.

He is also back to fussing all day, just like when he was a newborn. The only thing we can figure is that he must be teething. He's 4 months old and perhaps a little young to be getting his first teeth, but that's all we can come up with. He acts uncomfortable ALL DAY. Gnaws on anything he can fit into his mouth. Chin rash from drool. All the symptoms. Does anyone out there know when they usually GET their teeth after they start showing all the signs?

Signed, One tired Mama

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year and Random Thoughts

We really celebrated our New Year's in style! We went to bed at ten and woke up when our annoying neighbors started shooting off fireworks in their backyard. So I guess you could say we went to the New Year's Eve fireworks! We celebrated again when Goose woke up at 3am for a snack!

Are you making any resolutions this year? I used to make resolutions, but found they didn't work for me. When I want to do something I just do it, if I try to make myself do it, it usually won't happen. I guess I'm stubborn like that.

I've been truly spoiled for about 2 1/2 weeks now - hubby is a teacher and has been home on Christmas break. I am so used now to having his help with the baby that I can hardly bear for him to return to work tomorrow! Plus I will just miss his company!

He is so awesome. He painted our whole kitchen last week in one day and it looks great! I'll be posted pictures of that soon.

Happy 2008!